Summary: The self-determined life is the life lived with one goal in mind--to please self. God has a better way for His people.
Self-determination: n. 1. freedom to live as one chooses, or to act or decide without consulting others.
I. It is a life of fleeing God’s will (Jonah)
A. Jonah’s call—Jonah 1:1-2
Jonah was a well-known prophet at Gath-hepher (II Kings 14:25). Like many of the Jews, he felt that God was only the God of Israel. When he received God’s call he was startled and fearful because of the great wickedness of the city. Nineveh was the capital city of Israel’s great enemy Assyria. Because Jonah knew that God was merciful, he knew that God would spare Nineveh if they would repent. Jonah did not want any of God’s mercy to be extended to his enemies.
B. Jonah’s choice—Jonah 1:3
Jonah rose up to flee from God’s presence. He wanted to get as far away from Nineveh as possible.
“It is vain thought to flee from the work that God appoints us, for the sake of finding a greater blessing, instead of seeking it where alone it is to be found-in loving obedience.” -Eliot
As the ship was tossed about in the storm, Jonah was asleep. When the others awoke him. They cast lots to find out who had brought about this great storm. The lot fell upon Jonah. They asked him what he had done to cause this storm to come upon them.
What he had to say shook them up. “I serve the God who created the wind and the sea.” They could not understand why any one who serves the God who created all things would disobey that God. The asked Jonah what must be done to stop the storm.
At this point, Jonah had two options. He could have gotten on his knees and repented of his stubborn, wicked ways, but it seems he was so determined to have his own way that death was more desirable to him than submission to God. When Jonah paid his fare the to collector on the ship, he little realized the full cost of the voyage. “He had been unwilling to pay the price to go to Nineveh, but the Tarshish journey proved far more costly.”—Beacon
II. It is a Life of Shallow Religion (Cain)
I heard about a pastor who gave a lady a Bible to read. A few short weeks later he stopped by her house to see how she was doing. He asked her if she was enjoying her new Bible. She said she stopped reading it when she came to the part where God rejected Cain’s sacrifice. She could not understand a God that would accept one sacrifice, but not another.
The question arises, “Why did God not accept Cain’s sacrifice?”
I John 3:12b “And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.”
Cain went through the motions of religion. He made sacrifice, but the sacrifice, it seems, was not one of repentance. He had a wicked heart which he was not willing to let God change. He had no sorrow or regret for his sinful life. Even after he murdered his brother he told God that he did not deserve the punishment he was receiving.
There are many folks today who appear in church regularly and sing the songs of the redeemed, testify to the grace of God, and pray eloquently, but have a self-determined heart that is not willing to submit to God’s authority.
III. It is a Life Unprepared to Meet God. (The Wedding Guest—Matthew 22:1-14)
Surely this wedding guest was full of excuses.
1. He didn’t like the material of the garment.
2. He thought his own garment was good enough.
3. He had was afraid the garment would restrict him from participating in his favorite activities.
4. His dog ate the wedding garment.
All kinds of excuses were going though his mind as he rationalized his own self-determined attitude.
We have examined some of the characteristics of a self-determined life. It is a life lived un-submitted to the authority of God. It is a life of running from the known will of God. It is a life of shallow religion to cover a wicked heart. It is a life unprepared to meet God. What is the cure for such a life?
The only cure for such a life is complete submission to the authority of God. This will involve these important steps.
1. Repentance—I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
2. Love for God—Mark 12:30 “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…”
3. Submission to God’s authority—John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”